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29 July 2014

On Global Tiger Day, INTERPOL renews pledge to defend the species

LYON, France – INTERPOL is marking Global Tiger Day with a renewed commitment to supporting its member countries in protecting the world’s last remaining wild tigers.

INTERPOL’s Project Predator combines the efforts of police, customs and wildlife officials in the countries in Asia where wild tigers and other ‘big cats’ such as leopards can still be found. The initiative supports national, regional and international law enforcement efforts to address the conservation of all Asian big cats through capacity building initiatives, investigative support and operations targeting the organized criminal networks behind wildlife crime.

Under the auspices of Project Predator, INTERPOL is holding a multi-agency training course in Vietnam to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in the country.

With support from the Vietnam Police and the US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the four-day training session (28-31 July) in Hanoi aims to equip law enforcement and environmental agencies in Vietnam with the ability to conduct effective wildlife crime investigations, develop a national strategy for regional operations, and enhance information sharing among national agencies involved in fighting wildlife crime.

Topics to be covered during the course include investigation skills, intelligence management and emerging concealment methods.

“Vietnam is both a destination and transit point in the illegal wildlife trade, therefore we need to act decisively and work closely with our counterparts other countries and international organizations to effectively address this situation,” said Major General Tran Duy Thanh, Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Vietnam.

A key aspect of preventing wildlife crime and protecting tigers is the ability of police to conduct thorough investigations to identify the organized criminal networks behind these crimes. INTERPOL offers support to its member countries through Project Predator by providing analytical support and sharing modern investigation and evidence collection techniques.

Prevention is also crucial to protecting tigers and other endangered species. INTERPOL’s Turn Back Crime campaign seeks to raise public awareness of the connection between organized crime and the illicit wildlife trade, encouraging people not to buy items which come from threatened species, such as tiger skins.

To build upon the training course in Vietnam, INTERPOL and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), are jointly organizing the 2nd annual SAWEN meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal in August to further strengthen cooperation to combat wildlife crime and enhance the use of genetics analysis techniques in anti-poaching efforts.

Ioana Botezatu, Manager of Project Predator said, “A collective effort is instrumental in dealing with the common threats and challenges of conservation in the region. With this spirit, and a solid foundation of support from INTERPOL, bringing an end to the illegal wildlife trade can one day be a reality.”

The 13 tiger range countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.